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Virginia Beach City Council tackles packed agenda, focuses heavily on short-term rental debate

The Formal Session on Tuesday lasted more than six hours.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Council hit another roadblock while talking about short-term rental or STRs. 

There’s been a years-long debate on how and where vacation rental homeowners should operate.

After several hours of a public hearing and discussion Tuesday night, council members largely tabled a set of proposals. If passed, they would add more rules – like a limit of two people per bedroom, city-approved structural inspections every three years and a cap of one contract a week.

"At some point, you've got to stop looking at us like we're criminals. Because we're not. Some of us are being responsible. Some of us have short-term rentals that their neighbors love," said Elaine Fekete with the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance.

"We don't want an endless stream of strangers destroying the peace, tranquility and safety of our neighborhood," said Joe Baumer, a resident in the North End. He also cited concerns with trash, traffic and noise. 

Both sides had a chance to air their thoughts in front of council, whether for or against the proposals. 

“We don’t need additional regulation. We have enough regulations. Lets let the regulation this body worked so hard on two years ago, let’s let it work," said Brandon Beavers with the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance. 

“Please, please. Put yourself in my shoes. Would you want to be raise you kids next to a short-term rental? I don’t think you would say yes," said Whitney Harding, another resident who lives in the North End. 

Council members Tuesday did agree to get rid of the proposed zoned districts in the Oceanfront Resort and North End areas.

Whether more regulations are coming for STR owners, that’ll be voted on July 13. City council will be meet at chambers for formal session, starting at 6 p.m. next Tuesday. 

Short-term rentals weren't the only thing council talked about. The Citizens Review Panel Task Force is getting an extension. 

You may recall, the city narrowly voted for the 11-member panel. It's designed as "civilian oversight" of police. The goal is to build trust and transparency. 

Panel members now have until August 31 to make a recommendation about the group's project model, budget and impact. 

Also in Virginia Beach, the city plans to ask a state and federal judge for approval to hold a special election.

This comes after Councilwoman Jessica Abbott’s departure. She resigned effective July 2 and cited recent health concerns. The city is asking for a November 2 special election to fill her seat. Until then, council members still have to appoint a replacement. Abbott's term would have ended in 2024.

We're told that the judges would need to OK a special election request since the at-large voting set-up in Virginia Beach is against state law, as of July 1. Additionally, a federal judge ruled in March that the city's current election system is illegal

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